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506Episodes
Category: Science

A fun take on the latest science news with enough data to sink your teeth into. Lagrange Point goes beyond the glossy summary and gets in depth with the research from across the world.

September 12, 2022

Episode 500 - Forest helping pump water and create rain

Plants harness the energy from the sun for so much more than photosynthesis. You have a beating hart to pump around your blood, but what do plants. Plants' vascular systems aren't pressurized so how do they power their circulation? Just how much energy do plants use globally each year to pump water out of the ground and into their leaves? Plants use incredible amounts of energy each year just to pump water out of the ground into their leaves. The fresh scents of plants are organic compounds that can reveal a lot about a plants condition. The scents of plants can play a role in influencing the climate around them. 

  1. Gregory R. Quetin, Leander D. L. Anderegg, Alexandra G. Konings, Anna T. Trugman. Quantifying the Global Power Needed for Sap Ascent in PlantsJournal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 2022; 127 (8) DOI: 10.1029/2022JG006922
  2. Joseph Byron, Juergen Kreuzwieser, Gemma Purser, Joost van Haren, S. Nemiah Ladd, Laura K. Meredith, Christiane Werner, Jonathan Williams. Chiral monoterpenes reveal forest emission mechanisms and drought responsesNature, 2022; 609 (7926): 307 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-05020-5
August 1, 2022

Episode 494 - Mass extinctions and recovery in our oceans

What happens when most life in the ocean just dies off? Our oceans have seen many mass extinctions in the past, how long does it take to recover? What happened at the end of the Permian that caused massive extinctions in the ocean? What creatures were best able to survive when 80% of the rest of life in the ocean died? Burrowing and feeding on mud at the ocean depths helped soft bodied creatures survive a mass extinction. What lurked in the north Pacific that heated up the oceans? What was 'The Blob' and how were seals able to uncover it's secrets in the North pacific?

  1. Xueqian Feng, Zhong-Qiang Chen, Michael J. Benton, Chunmei Su, David J. Bottjer, Alison T. Cribb, Ziheng Li, Laishi Zhao, Guangyou Zhu, Yuangeng Huang, Zhen Guo. Resilience of infaunal ecosystems during the Early Triassic greenhouse EarthScience Advances, 2022; 8 (26) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abo0597
  2. Rachel R. Holser, Theresa R. Keates, Daniel P. Costa, Christopher A. Edwards. Extent and Magnitude of Subsurface Anomalies During the Northeast Pacific Blob as Measured by Animal‐Borne SensorsJournal of Geophysical Research: Oceans, 2022; 127 (7) DOI: 10.1029/2021JC018356
July 4, 2022

Episode 490 - The history of fire on Earth

The history of fire on earth from the first wildfires to the first use to cook. We all know you need fuel and oxygen for fire, but when did the first fires occur on Earth. When did the first wild fires occur on earth? What was there to burn on early Earth if there weren't any large trees or plants? Giant mushrooms and large fields of moss, early Earth was very different but it could still have wildfires. When did the first hominids use fire as a tool? How can we identify if something that was burn was done so deliberately or accidentally. We know at some point hominids used fire as a tool, but when exactly -  200,500 800 million years ago?

  1. Zane Stepka, Ido Azuri, Liora Kolska Horwitz, Michael Chazan, Filipe Natalio. Hidden signatures of early fire at Evron Quarry (1.0 to 0.8 Mya)Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2022; 119 (25) DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2123439119
  2. Ian J. Glasspool, Robert A. Gastaldo. Silurian wildfire proxies and atmospheric oxygenGeology, 2022; DOI: 10.1130/G50193.1
June 28, 2022

Episode 498 - Clean air, captured carbon and paper sensors

Where is the cleanest air on the planet? How do oceans help capture carbon from forest fires? Where does all that carbon go after a forest fire? How do you find the cleanest air, by measuring microbes. The southern ocean air is not polluted by aerosols or ice forming particles. The air above the Southern Ocean is clean and crisp with not much microbes in side it. How can you turn a paper into a simple carbon dioxide sensor?

  1. Matthew W. Jones, Alysha I. Coppola, Cristina Santín, Thorsten Dittmar, Rudolf Jaffé, Stefan H. Doerr, Timothy A. Quine. Fires prime terrestrial organic carbon for riverine export to the global oceansNature Communications, 2020; 11 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-020-16576-z
  2. Hui Wang, Sergei I. Vagin, Bernhard Rieger, Alkiviathes Meldrum. An Ultrasensitive Fluorescent Paper-Based CO2 SensorACS Applied Materials & Interfaces, 2020; 12 (18): 20507 DOI: 10.1021/acsami.0c03405
June 14, 2022

Episode 487 - Feeding the planet without damaging it

​As our climate changes, feeding the planet without making things worse is a big challenge. How do plants work together to survive extreme weather events? When there is a large drought or extreme weather event what works better, single species or mixed? Plant diversity can help plants weather the storm of climate change and come out stronger. How do cover crops help 'fix' nitrogen in the soil and reduce negative climate impacts. Excess fertiliser is not only expensive for farmers but damaging to the local and global environment. How can cover crops help soil recover and reduce negative climate change impacts of mono cropping. 

  1. Yuxin Chen, Anja Vogel, Cameron Wagg, Tianyang Xu, Maitane Iturrate-Garcia, Michael Scherer-Lorenzen, Alexandra Weigelt, Nico Eisenhauer, Bernhard Schmid. Drought-exposure history increases complementarity between plant species in response to a subsequent droughtNature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30954-9
  2. Nakian Kim, Chance W. Riggins, María C. Zabaloy, Marco Allegrini, Sandra L. Rodriguez-Zas, María B. Villamil. High-Resolution Indicators of Soil Microbial Responses to N Fertilization and Cover Cropping in Corn MonoculturesAgronomy, 2022; 12 (4): 954 DOI: 10.3390/agronomy12040954
  3. Nakian Kim, Chance Riggins, María C. Zabaloy, Sandra Rodriguez-Zas and María B. Villamil. Limited impacts of cover cropping on soil N-cycling microbial communities of long-term corn monoculturesFrontiers in Microbiology, 2022 DOI: 10.3389/fmicb.2022.926592
May 30, 2022

Episode 485 - Plants race against rising sea levels

How can plants adapt to a changing climate and strange volcanic soils. By tracking the divergent evolution of Thale Cress, scientists can track the genetic changes needed to thrive in weird soil. Volcanic soil can have benefits along with risks, but how can plants adapt quickly to odd soil types? How did plants learn to thrive on a volcanic island, Pico de Fogo. What can a long running study tell us about plants adapting to a changing climate. Extra CO2 is good for plants...to up to a point. For plants in wetlands its a race between rising sea levels and extra CO2. 

  1. Emmanuel Tergemina, Ahmed F. Elfarargi, Paulina Flis, Andrea Fulgione, Mehmet Göktay, Célia Neto, Marleen Scholle, Pádraic J. Flood, Sophie-Asako Xerri, Johan Zicola, Nina Döring, Herculano Dinis, Ute Krämer, David E. Salt, Angela M. Hancock. A two-step adaptive walk rewires nutrient transport in a challenging edaphic environmentScience Advances, 2022; 8 (20) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abm9385
  2. Chunwu Zhu, J. Adam Langley, Lewis H. Ziska, Donald R. Cahoon, J. Patrick Megonigal. Accelerated sea-level rise is suppressing CO 2 stimulation of tidal marsh productivity: A 33-year studyScience Advances, 2022; 8 (20) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abn0054
May 24, 2022

Episode 484 - The links between the Core and the volcanos on the surface

How do seismic waves travel through our planet? Is it possible to 'slow down' a seismic wave? What causes 'hotspot volcanoes'? What strange things happen at the boundary between the core and the mantle? The mantle is a dynamic place, and pockets of 'dense' rock can slow and shape heat flow from deep below to the surface. Dense iron rich pockets of rock at the edge of the Core could influence where hotspot volcanoes occur. 

  1. Zhi Li, Kuangdai Leng, Jennifer Jenkins, Sanne Cottaar. Kilometer-scale structure on the core–mantle boundary near HawaiiNature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-30502-5
May 16, 2022

Episode 483 - Constantly changing moons of Jupiter

Jupiter's moons may be way more dynamic than we previously thought. Europa has the most potential to harbor life outside of Earth, but it's ice sheets may be more Earth like than we imagined. Europa's spectacular double ridges are similar to those found in Greenland. The ice sheets on Europa may not be static and still, but churning. Melting and refreezing could drive exchange between the surface of Europa and it's icey depths. How do you form sand dunes without any wind? Is it possible to form a Dune on Io using just volcanic flows and sulfur snows?

  1. Culberg, R., Schroeder, D.M. & Steinbrügge, G. Double ridge formation over shallow water sills on Jupiter’s moon Europa. Nat Commun, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29458-3
  2. George D. McDonald, Joshua Méndez Harper, Lujendra Ojha, Paul Corlies, Josef Dufek, Ryan C. Ewing, Laura Kerber. Aeolian sediment transport on Io from lava–frost interactions. Nature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-29682-x
April 4, 2022

Episode 477 - Plants reacting and defending themselves

How can plants defend themselves from attack? Animals scatter when they hear an alarm cry or a predator, but how do plants defend themselves? Plants react to danger around them by detecting chemical signals. Plants emit warning through volatile chemicals and others detect these signals to raise their own defences. How do plants detect light and know where to head without eyes? How do the shape of proteins that bend a plant towards like change when exposed to different light?

  1. Haruki Onosato, Genya Fujimoto, Tomota Higami, Takuya Sakamoto, Ayaka Yamada, Takamasa Suzuki, Rika Ozawa, Sachihiro Matsunaga, Motoaki Seki, Minoru Ueda, Kaori Sako, Ivan Galis, Gen-ichiro Arimura. Sustained defense response via volatile signaling and its epigenetic transcriptional regulationPlant Physiology, 2022; DOI: 10.1093/plphys/kiac077
  2. Li, H., Burgie, E.S., Gannam, Z.T.K. et al. Plant phytochrome B is an asymmetric dimer with unique signalling potentialNature, 2022 DOI: 10.1038/s41586-022-04529-z
February 21, 2022

Episode 471 - Extreme weather and protecting cities

Ways to protect our cities as climate changes causes more extreme weather. How can we better prepare our infrastructure for damage from extreme storms. Extreme events like storm Eunice can wreck havoc on electricity networks. How can we better prepare our cities? Climate changes makes extreme weather more common so what can be done to predict the risk to key infrastructure? Urban areas can swelter in heat waves, but can urban greening help limit the impact? What benefits does urban greening provide to limit flooding and overheating in extreme weather? When an atmospheric river meets a mountain range it can create a deluge.

  1. Sean Wilkinson, Sarah Dunn, Russell Adams, Nicolas Kirchner-Bossi, Hayley J. Fowler, Samuel González Otálora, David Pritchard, Joana Mendes, Erika J. Palin, Steven C. Chan. Consequence forecasting: A rational framework for predicting the consequences of approaching stormsClimate Risk Management, 2022; 35: 100412 DOI: 10.1016/j.crm.2022.100412
  2. Y. Kamae, Y. Imada, H. Kawase, W. Mei. Atmospheric Rivers Bring More Frequent and Intense Extreme Rainfall Events Over East Asia Under Global WarmingGeophysical Research Letters, 2022 DOI: 10.1029/2021GL09603
  3. Katja Schmidt, Ariane Walz. Ecosystem-based adaptation to climate change through residential urban green structures: co-benefits to thermal comfort, biodiversity, carbon storage and social interactionOne Ecosystem, 2021; 6 DOI: 10.3897/oneeco.6.e65706
  4. M. O. Cuthbert, G. C. Rau, M. Ekström, D. M. O’Carroll, A. J. Bates. Global climate-driven trade-offs between the water retention and cooling benefits of urban greeningNature Communications, 2022; 13 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28160-8
January 17, 2022

Episode 466 - Tsunamis, underwater volcanoes and magnetic fields

When Tsunami's strike, every extra minute of notice can help save lives. How can scientists better predict the height and journey of a tsunami? We look at the ways scientists can use tectonic plates or magnetic fields to improve tsunami predictions. Where an earthquake occurs can make a big difference to the size of a tsunami. The shallower an earthquake in a thinner sub-ducting plate can lead to higher tsunamis. When you move a large amount of sea-water the earths magnetic field changes, just enough to detect. Like reading the vibrations in seismic waves, earth's magnetic field changes enough for you to identify a tsunami. Using magnetic fields you can measure and asses the height of a tsunami much faster.

  1. Zhiheng Lin, Hiroaki Toh, Takuto Minami. Direct Comparison of the Tsunami‐Generated Magnetic Field With Sea Level Change for the 2009 Samoa and 2010 Chile TsunamisJournal of Geophysical Research: Solid Earth, 2021; 126 (11) DOI: 10.1029/2021JB022760
  2. Kwok Fai Cheung, Thorne Lay, Lin Sun, Yoshiki Yamazaki. Tsunami size variability with rupture depthNature Geoscience, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41561-021-00869-z
December 13, 2021

Episode 461 - What trees can help save a city

Planting trees can help save the planet, but which trees should you plant? How do you decide what trees to plant and where to help the environment and people? Trees can help reduce pollution in the air and ground, so where are they most effective in a city? Planting urban trees can have significant public health benefits, but what trees are most effective to plant? Just what exactly is grass? How can detailed modeling and genetic testing help solve the riddle of grass classification? Are grass leaves and sheathes one thing, or is it stem and leaf like a tree?

  1. A. E. Richardson, J. Cheng, R. Johnston, R. Kennaway, B. R. Conlon, A. B. Rebocho, H. Kong, M. J. Scanlon, S. Hake, E. Coen. Evolution of the grass leaf by primordium extension and petiole-lamina remodelingScience, 2021; 374 (6573): 1377 DOI: 10.1126/science.abf9407
  2. Loren P. Hopkins, Deborah J. January‐Bevers, Erin K. Caton, Laura A. Campos. A simple tree planting framework to improve climate, air pollution, health, and urban heat in vulnerable locations using non‐traditional partnersPLANTS, PEOPLE, PLANET, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/ppp3.10245
September 27, 2021

Episode 450 - Dating lobsters and islands under the sea

Dating lobsters can be tricky and not just because they pinch. We think lobsters can live for decades or centuries, but we can't actually track their age. Just how do you find out a creatures age without dissecting them? Tracking a creatures age is tricky when they cast away alot of signs of physical growth. How can there tightly knit families spread across huge distances in the sea that are somehow connected? How do genetic islands form inside the oceans? What can chaos, larvae and Antarctica tell us about genetic diversity?

  1. Eleanor A. Fairfield, David S. Richardson, Carly L. Daniels, Christopher L. Butler, Ewen Bell, Martin I. Taylor. Ageing European lobsters ( Homarus gammarus ) using DNA methylation of evolutionarily conserved ribosomal DNAEvolutionary Applications, 2021; DOI: 10.1111/eva.13296
  2. David L. J. Vendrami, Lloyd S. Peck, Melody S. Clark, Bjarki Eldon, Michael Meredith, Joseph I. Hoffman. Sweepstake reproductive success and collective dispersal produce chaotic genetic patchiness in a broadcast spawnerScience Advances, 2021; 7 (37) DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abj4713
September 6, 2021

Episode 447 - Defending and recovering from floods in cities and the sea floor

Extreme storms will become more common, so how can cities and the sea bed defend itself. What happens to the sea floor when there is a big storm? How long does the ecosystem on the sea floor take to recover after a large storm. What can be done to protect a coastal city from flooding in extreme weather? Knowing when to batten the hatches and protect a city in an extreme storm requires careful modelling. Venice is a beautiful city, but requires constant defense from damaging flooding and storms. Venice is protected from flooding by MOSE but is there a future where the gates are permanently closed? The complex interaction between sea level rise, Mediterranean and Adriatic seas make protecting the Venetian lagoon tricky.

  1. Piero Lionello, Robert J. Nicholls, Georg Umgiesser, Davide Zanchettin. Venice flooding and sea level: past evolution, present issues, and future projections (introduction to the special issue). Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences, 2021; 21 (8): 2633 DOI: 10.5194/nhess-21-2633-2021
  2. E. V. Sheehan, L. A. Holmes, B. F. R. Davies, A. Cartwright, A. Rees, M. J. Attrill. Rewilding of Protected Areas Enhances Resilience of Marine Ecosystems to Extreme Climatic Events. Frontiers in Marine Science, 2021; 8 DOI: 10.3389/fmars.2021.671427
August 23, 2021

Episode 445 - De-carbonizing Transportation and Fertilizer

Can you really power a plane with enough batteries to fly across the world? How many batteries does a ship need to circumnavigate the globe? Is there an efficient way to stop relying on diesel and dirty jet fuel? How can we turn big CO2 emitters like ships and planes into CO2 negative systems? Can aviation and transport ever be carbon neutral? How can we make fertilizer without using so much energy? The Haber Bosch process helped feed the planet, but how can we replace it to save the planet?

 

References:

  1. Travis A. Schmauss, Scott A. Barnett. Viability of Vehicles Utilizing On-Board CO2 Capture. ACS Energy Letters, 2021; 3180 DOI: 10.1021/acsenergylett.1c01426
  2. Chade Lv, Lixiang Zhong, Hengjie Liu, Zhiwei Fang, Chunshuang Yan, Mengxin Chen, Yi Kong, Carmen Lee, Daobin Liu, Shuzhou Li, Jiawei Liu, Li Song, Gang Chen, Qingyu Yan, Guihua Yu. Selective electrocatalytic synthesis of urea with nitrate and carbon dioxide. Nature Sustainability, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41893-021-00741-3
July 12, 2021

Episode 439 - The journey of humanity and its closet cousins

What separates Homo Sapiens from our closest cousins? How do we piece together the journey of Homo Sapiens across the world? Neanderthals were capable of much more than what stereotypes suggest. How did Neanderthals produce complex art? How did Neanderthals and Homo Sapiens intermix? Was there a linking population that helped spread Homo Sapiens genes into Neanderthals long before mass migration? Neanderthals are often thought of as Europe based, but was there a larger progenitor population in the Levant?

  1. Mooallem, J. (2021). The Sunday Read: ‘Neanderthals Were People, Too’. Retrieved 11 July 2021, from https://www.nytimes.com/2021/05/23/podcasts/the-daily/neanderthals-were-people-too.html
  2. Dirk Leder, Raphael Hermann, Matthias Hüls, Gabriele Russo, Philipp Hoelzmann, Ralf Nielbock, Utz Böhner, Jens Lehmann, Michael Meier, Antje Schwalb, Andrea Tröller-Reimer, Tim Koddenberg, Thomas Terberger. A 51,000-year-old engraved bone reveals Neanderthals’ capacity for symbolic behaviourNature Ecology & Evolution, 2021; DOI: 10.1038/s41559-021-01487-z
  3. Israel Hershkovitz, Hila May, Rachel Sarig, Ariel Pokhojaev, Dominique Grimaud-Hervé, Emiliano Bruner, Cinzia Fornai, Rolf Quam, Juan Luis Arsuaga, Viktoria A. Krenn, Maria Martinón-Torres, José María Bermúdez De Castro, Laura Martín-Francés, Viviane Slon, Lou Albessard-Ball, Amélie Vialet, Tim Schüler, Giorgio Manzi, Antonio Profico, Fabio Di Vincenzo, Gerhard W. Weber, Yossi Zaidner. A Middle Pleistocene Homo from Nesher Ramla, IsraelScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1424-1428 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3169
  4. Yossi Zaidner, Laura Centi, Marion Prévost, Norbert Mercier, Christophe Falguères, Gilles Guérin, Hélène Valladas, Maïlys Richard, Asmodée Galy, Christophe Pécheyran, Olivier Tombret, Edwige Pons-Branchu, Naomi Porat, Ruth Shahack-Gross, David E. Friesem, Reuven Yeshurun, Zohar Turgeman-Yaffe, Amos Frumkin, Gadi Herzlinger, Ravid Ekshtain, Maayan Shemer, Oz Varoner, Rachel Sarig, Hila May, Israel Hershkovitz. Middle Pleistocene Homo behavior and culture at 140,000 to 120,000 years ago and interactions with Homo sapiensScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1429-1433 DOI: 10.1126/science.abh3020
  5. Marta Mirazón Lahr. The complex landscape of recent human evolutionScience, 2021; 372 (6549): 1395-1396 DOI: 10.1126/science.abj3077
June 28, 2021

Episode 437 - Dark Fish hiding in the ocean depths

Squeezing and grinding to create next generation materials from humble beginnings. Changing magnetic field by changing shape could open the door for more efficient computers. Magnetostriction causes that 'hum' you hear from electronics but it can be harnessed for good. Large electrical devices like transformers or fluorescent tubes shape influences their magnetic field. The next generation of computers may harness the way magnetic fields and physical shape can be linked. Forget rare earth metals, there is a more efficient way to make high powered computer chips out of humble iron and gallium. Luminescent polymers can be found in fancy OLED screens but are complex to produce. How can you make fancy luminescent polymers from generic polymers? By grinding them. A unique way of grinding and rolling basic generic polymers could create powerful luminescent polymers for use in high end screens, lasers and bioimaging.

  1. P. B. Meisenheimer, R. A. Steinhardt, S. H. Sung, L. D. Williams, S. Zhuang, M. E. Nowakowski, S. Novakov, M. M. Torunbalci, B. Prasad, C. J. Zollner, Z. Wang, N. M. Dawley, J. Schubert, A. H. Hunter, S. Manipatruni, D. E. Nikonov, I. A. Young, L. Q. Chen, J. Bokor, S. A. Bhave, R. Ramesh, J.-M. Hu, E. Kioupakis, R. Hovden, D. G. Schlom, J. T. Heron. Engineering new limits to magnetostriction through metastability in iron-gallium alloys. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22793-x
  2. Koji Kubota, Naoki Toyoshima, Daiyo Miura, Julong Jiang, Satoshi Maeda, Mingoo Jin, Hajime Ito. Introduction of a Luminophore into Generic Polymers via Mechanoradical Coupling with a Prefluorescent Reagent. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, 2021; DOI: 10.1002/anie.202105381
June 14, 2021

Episode 435 - Cold war secrets and reanimating frozen life

Cold war secrets buried deep in the ice and forgotten, plus reanimating frozen life from Siberia. How could some frozen dirt, forgotten in a freezer for decades help us understand a future of rising sea levels? Greenland's name was a marketing stunt by Erik the Red, but it was once truly covered in greenery. Although Greenland is so close to the North Pole, all it's thick sheets of ice have completely melted (geologically) recently. How did scientists reanimate ancient animals buried in the Siberian Tundra? Rotifers can live in some unusual places, but they can also survive being frozen and brought back to life. Ancient animals have been 'unfrozen' and brought back to life though they are very small.

  1. Lyubov Shmakova, Stas Malavin, Nataliia Iakovenko, Tatiana Vishnivetskaya, Daniel Shain, Michael Plewka, Elizaveta Rivkina. A living bdelloid rotifer from 24,000-year-old Arctic permafrost. Current Biology, 2021; 31 (11): R712 DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2021.04.077
  2. Baqai, A., Guruswamy, V., Liu, J., & Rizki, G. (2000). Introduction to the Rotifera. Retrieved 10 June 2021, from https://ucmp.berkeley.edu/phyla/rotifera/rotifera.html
  3. Andrew J. Christ, Paul R. Bierman, Joerg M. Schaefer, Dorthe Dahl-Jensen, Jørgen P. Steffensen, Lee B. Corbett, Dorothy M. Peteet, Elizabeth K. Thomas, Eric J. Steig, Tammy M. Rittenour, Jean-Louis Tison, Pierre-Henri Blard, Nicolas Perdrial, David P. Dethier, Andrea Lini, Alan J. Hidy, Marc W. Caffee, John Southon. A multimillion-year-old record of Greenland vegetation and glacial history preserved in sediment beneath 1.4 km of ice at Camp Century. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 2021; 118 (13): e2021442118 DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2021442118
May 10, 2021

Episode 430 - Using Corn to clean water, and new wind turbine designs

Clever engineering can turn waste products into planet cleaning tools. Corn is America's biggest crop, but it's incredibly wasteful. Corn waste can be given a second life as activated carbon to help clean water. Corn waste makes for an efficient water when it's turned into activated charcoal. Wind turbines have to be carefully placed and located to maximise their efficiency. When designing a wind farm, the location and style of the turbine can greatly impact generation. Which design is better for wind turbines; vertical or horizontal? Vertical wind turbines aren't as common, but they can work together to boost efficiency.

  1. Mark Gale, Tu Nguyen, Marissa Moreno, Kandis Leslie Gilliard-AbdulAziz. Physiochemical Properties of Biochar and Activated Carbon from Biomass Residue: Influence of Process Conditions to Adsorbent PropertiesACS Omega, 2021; 6 (15): 10224 DOI: 10.1021/acsomega.1c00530
  2. Joachim Toftegaard Hansen, Mahak Mahak, Iakovos Tzanakis. Numerical modelling and optimization of vertical axis wind turbine pairs: A scale up approachRenewable Energy, 2021; 171: 1371 DOI: 10.1016/j.renene.2021.03.001
May 3, 2021

Episode 429 - Volcanic ash in our oceans and rafting in the air

Volcanic eruptions are incredibly powerful but not well understood. When a volcano erupts it can spread ash far and wide both in the ocean and in the air. What happens when a volcano erupts underwater? How much energy does an underwater volcano unleash? Where does all the energy in an underwater volcanic eruption go? Is it possible for volcanic ash to form and spread underwater? Just like jetstream currents in the air, volcanic ash can be carried far and wide in underwater eruptions. Volcanic ash can get held up by smaller particles, to raft long distances.

  1. T. Dürig, J. D. L. White, A. P. Murch, B. Zimanowski, R. Büttner, D. Mele, P. Dellino, R. J. Carey, L. S. Schmidt & N. Spitznagel. Deep-sea eruptions boosted by induced fuel-coolant explosions. Nature Geoscience, June 2020 DOI: 10.1038/s41561-020-0603-4
  2. Samuel S. Pegler, David J. Ferguson. Rapid heat discharge during deep-sea eruptions generates megaplumes and disperses tephra. Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-22439-y
  3. Eduardo Rossi, Gholamhossein Bagheri, Frances Beckett, Costanza Bonadonna. The fate of volcanic ash: premature or delayed sedimentation? Nature Communications, 2021; 12 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41467-021-21568-8